William Mitchell, in his article “Replacing Place”, describes the ways in which the convergence of electronic communications and the personal computer has created a cyberspace that consists of alternate realities and online environments. Computer programs have created virtual realities where participants can create their own online worlds, a new identity, and interact with others all from their own homes. In programs like Habitat, one can create their own avatar to represent themselves and can generate a whole new life online. Many advancements have come from the beginning of these virtual worlds, like making the character’s lips sync with the words in order to appear more life-like. With 3-dimensional virtual environments, users can walk and fly around. Mitchell outlines the characteristics of a successful online environment, consisting of ideas that a virtual place must be sufficiently accessible to users, it must be attention getting, it must have logical landmarks, and it must have the same environment every time someone logs back on. Mitchell ends by concluding that at the highest level of abstraction- that of user interface- these virtual realities created closely mimic reality.
Living in the 21st century constitutes a reasoning for the importance of this article not just in our class but in my own life. As media production students, we must acknowledge the ways in which virtual realities have created a cyberspace that more and more consumers are becoming a part of. These online environments are in an upward trajectory, as technological advancements have allowed the separation between virtual reality and actual reality to become slimmer. In our class, we learn about different forms of media and how they affect society, and these online environments constitute an important form of online usage. In my own life, I grew up playing games like SIMS that allowed me to create my own identity, house, relationships, and lifestyle. It was always so fun to escape reality and delve into the possibilities of my online persona, dating who I wanted, becoming a millionaire, killing people if I wanted to. I absolutely understand why these virtual realities are desirable to others and why they’ve only gotten more advanced.
Here is a picture of what SIMS 1 looked like. Wow has technology advanced since then!